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Russia has imposed a fine on Twitter for failing to remove protest calls

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Russia has imposed a fine on Twitter for failing to remove protest calls.
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The latest in a series of actions against the social media giant that has been used to amplify opposition in Russia, a court in Moscow fined Twitter on Friday for failing to take down calls urging children to participate in illegal rallies.

The court found Twitter guilty of three counts of violating laws banning the distribution of illegal content and ordered the company to pay three fines totaling 8.9 million rubles ($117,000).

The decision comes two weeks after Roskomnadzor, Russia’s state communications watchdog, threatened to block Twitter in 30 days if it did not take action to remove banned content.

Last month, Roskomnadzor accused Twitter of failing to remove content encouraging children to commit suicide, as well as drug and child pornography information. Because of this, the agency reported on March 10 that the uploading of images and videos to the website would be slowed. In response, Twitter reiterated its zero-tolerance policy for child sexual abuse, suicide promotion, and drug sales.

Less than a week later, Roskomnadzor deputy chief Vadim Subbotin said that Twitter was still not compliant with Russian authorities’ demands, predicting that “if things continue like this, it will be blocked in a month.”

Russian authorities chastised social media sites earlier this year for mobilizing tens of thousands of people across the country in January to demand the release of imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, Putin’s most well-known critic. The surge of protests was the biggest in years, posing a serious threat to the Kremlin.

According to the authorities, social media outlets failed to delete calls for children to participate in the demonstrations. Putin has encouraged police to step up their efforts to track social media sites and arrest those who “invite children to engage in unlawful and unsanctioned street actions.”

On Friday, Twitter said nothing about the Moscow court decision.

The Russian government has been working to tighten control over the internet and social media since 2012 when a law was passed authorizing authorities to blacklist and censor such online content. Since then, Russia has imposed a growing number of restrictions on messaging apps, websites, and social media platforms.

The government has threatened to block Facebook and Twitter on several occasions but has refrained from enacting outright bans, presumably due to public outrage. Only LinkedIn, a relatively unknown social media platform in Russia, has been banned by the authorities for failing to store user data in the country.

However, according to some analysts, Russian authorities might be seriously considering bans this time around.

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